Equine Centre

The University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre provides state of the art surgical and medical care to horses of all shapes and sizes. Cases are referred to us from all over Victoria and interstate to be examined and treated by Australia’s largest group of veterinary specialists.

We pride ourselves on our patient care, customer service, intensive care and dedication to training and research. The treatments the we use and recommend are backed by the latest research to which members of our team make a significant contribution.

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The treatments the we use and recommend are backed by the latest research to which members of our team make a significant contribution. We offer a comprehensive range of services including: lameness investigation, upper respiratory function evaluation, surgery, cardiology, neurology, 'poor performance' and pre-purchase evaluations. We have a combination of highly trained technical staff and the best available equipment so that our diagnostic imaging services are world class. Available imaging equipment includes computer radiography, scintigraphy (bone scan), computed tomography (CT), ultrasound, endoscopy and treadmill endoscopy and the only high field MRI unit in Australia capable of imaging horse limbs.

News and resources

28 Jun 2019

Obesity, insulin and laminitis: How exercise can help

New research led by Dr Nicholas Bamford shows that regular low‐intensity exercise provides additional health benefits for the prevention of laminitis.

12 Apr 2019

Research produces valuable insights into the cause of laminitis

Promising research conducted by our leading equine expert Professor Simon Bailey and PhD candidate Courtnay Baskerville provides possible missing link between insulin and laminitis.

21 Mar 2019

What are the biggest risk factors for injury in thoroughbred racing?

Dr Peta Lee Hitchens recently discussed her new paper, which analysed almost 300 risk factors in flat racing to determine those most likely to lead to a catastrophic injury on the track.

24 Jan 2019

Another successful transvenous electrocardioversion at the Equine Centre

Banjo is a successful racehorse from NSW, whose career was in danger when he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. By performing a transvenous electrocardioversion (TVEC), the Equine Centre was able to correct his heart rhythm and return him to training.

24 Jan 2019

Foaling season: A successful outcome from an emergency situation

During the foaling process, there is a short window of time in which the foal needs to be delivered and begin breathing on its own. When this doesn't occur such as this case with Top Classic, an emergency caesarean section is required.

01 Oct 2018

Upper airway abnormality diagnosed by treadmill endoscopy

The U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre has the expertise to investigate and manage poor performance, including various respiratory and cardiac issues.

01 Oct 2018

Dr Charles El-Hage on horses during Spring - ABC Radio Melbourne

Listen to lecturer in Large Animal Medicine Dr Charles El-Hage from the University of Melbourne speak with Hilary Harper on the ABC Radio Melbourne on what to watch out for in horses and ponies, particularly during Spring. Charlie discusses horse diets, dental health and equine evolution, and answers some interesting questions from callers relating to laminitis, whether chamomile helps horses with anxiety and whether and when to muzzle.

03 Aug 2018

Launch of the Equine Centre’s new scintigraphy system

The U-Vet Equine Centre is excited to announce the recent launch of its new scintigraphy (bone scanning) system, the German-made Equine Scanner H.R. Scintron, which provides equine patients undergoing bone scans with improved comfort and protection, and more sophisticated, efficient and user-friendly scans.

07 Jun 2018

The power of collaboration for improving racing safety

Dr Peta Lee Hitchens, epidemiologist and Research Fellow in the Equine Orthopaedic Research Group at the University of Melbourne, spoke with The Horse about how the power of collaboration can improve racing safety and welfare.

08 May 2018

Alexis and her miracle foal

Alexis was brought into U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre at about 305 days pregnant. She was quiet, not eating and had been dripping milk for the past few days. Her vet performed some blood tests and had diagnosed her with hyperlipaemia.

20 Apr 2018

9 Steps for Giving Intramuscular Injections

Although often the domain of the veterinarian, there are occasions when horse owners may need to give injections too. When such situations arise, the vet will likely explain to the owner how to safely and correctly give an injection.

09 Apr 2018

Racing Victoria vet trainers’ seminar on horse injuries with Professor Chris Whitton Part 2

Professor Chris Whitton BVSc FANZVSC PhD is Head of the U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital’s Equine Centre and a Specialist in Equine Surgery. Chris has lectured and published extensively on lameness matters.

29 Mar 2018

New equine scintigraphy system (bone scanning)

U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre has invested in an exciting new scintigraphy system designed specifically for horses to enhance the overall bone scanning experience for patients and veterinarians.

12 Mar 2018

Swelling in horses

Swelling is one of the cardinal signs of inflammation, along with heat and pain. Careful observation of the horse at work followed by thorough palpation of all limbs immediately post exercise and post cooling down is vital to the early detection of swelling.

09 Feb 2018

Vet students treat ponies in Gili Islands

The Gili Islands, a growing tourist destination, lie just off the coast off Bali. Part of their appeal lies in the fact that there is no motorised transport. Instead, a remarkable plucky group of horses known as the Gili Island Ponies work very hard to provide essential transport for people, supplies, and large loads of rubbish!

25 Jan 2018

Predicting how bone adapts under different racehorse training loads

Most trainers know that a horse’s skeleton needs to be adapted to high speed exercise in order to reduce the risk of limb injuries, but there is limited data on how long it takes for bone to adapt to changes in exercise intensity throughout a racehorse’s training program.

11 Jan 2018

The role of viruses in respiratory disease and poor performance

Respiratory disease is the second most common cause of lost training days after lameness for racehorses. Both infectious (i.e., caused by viruses or bacteria) and non-infectious respiratory diseases occur commonly in young horses entering training stables for the first time and both can be important causes of poor performance.

11 Jan 2018

A pain in the eye - Corneal ulcers in horses

Corneal ulceration is a very common injury in horses which can easily be sight threatening. Ulcers can vary widely in their size and extent with deep and melting ulcers being a medical emergency that can progress rapidly to corneal perforation.

19 Dec 2017

Delta Safari’s successful treatment of atrial fibrillation with TVEC

Delta Safari has been successfully treated with transvenous electrocardioversion (TVEC), an alternative treatment for atrial fibrillation at U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre.

06 Dec 2017

Oscar's road to recovery

Oscar presented to the U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre for a musculoskeletal injury to the left forelimb. To provide Oscar with an optimal healing environment, a therapeutic shoeing plan was made with the consideration of the biomechanics of the limb and the conformation of the foot.

04 Dec 2017

Injury Prevention Research for Racehorses

Having one of the best safety records world racing, Victoria’s horse racing industry is still striving to improve.

09 Nov 2017

Racing Victoria vet trainers’ seminar on horse injuries with Professor Chris Whitton

Professor Chris Whitton BVSc FANZVSC PhD is Head of the U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital’s Equine Centre and a Specialist in Equine Surgery. Chris has lectured and published extensively on lameness matters.

30 Oct 2017

New research on snake envenomation of horses

A new research project led by University of Melbourne equine medicine researcher Dr Nick Bamford has been published. It’s the first in which scientists looked at the clinical signs of elapid snake envenomation (tiger snakes, taipan) in a large population of horses.

19 Oct 2017

Endocrinopathic Laminitis With Dr Simon Bailey

Dr Simon Bailey is a world-leading researcher who has devoted his professional career to examining endocrinopathic laminitis, a common, but potentially devastating, disease.

09 Oct 2017

The Role of Veterinary Specialists and Referral Equine Hospitals

Like specialists in human medicine, veterinary specialists have extensive experience and expertise in a relatively narrow aspect of veterinary medicine. As such, specialists in equine surgery or medicine are often able to provide services that might be beyond what is possible in general ambulatory practice.

05 Oct 2017

Resident vet Poppy volunteers in Mongol Derby

Poppy McGeown is an Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Resident at the U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre studying a specialisation course to deal with finely tuned athletes and try to assist them in optimising performance on a daily basis.

24 Jul 2017

Colitis in Horses

Colitis is the rapid onset of diarrhoea, with horses often being normal one day then becoming ill and passing watery diarrhoea the next. It is called Colitis as it is the large colon and/or caecum that is involved.

14 Jun 2017

Deworming Horses

Resistance of intestinal parasites in horses to commonly used dewormers is becoming increasingly recognised. Therefore deworming recommendations for adult horses have changed in recent years to reduce resistance of parasites to dewormers in our horses.

06 Oct 2016

Behavioural Clinics

Dr Andrew McLean is widely considered one of the leading academic experts on horse training.

26 Feb 2016

Dummy Foal Treatment

Alice is a 2 week old Warmblood foal owned by Coldstream Park Warmblood Stud, she was foaled early in the morning of the 28th of January. Staff at the stud realised she wasn’t right when she was unable to stand, they immediately rushed the mare and foal to U-Vet Equine Centre, Werribee.

15 Oct 2015

Strangles diagnostic testing and outbreak control

Strangles diagnostic testing and outbreak control:Centre for Equine Infectious Disease (Melbourne University)

10 Oct 2015

EVJ Podcast, No. 10, October 2015

Navigational ultrasound imaging (M. Lustgarten) & Role of subchondral bone remodelling in collapse of the articular surface (C. Whitton)

15 Sep 2015

Foaling Season Tips

Foaling season is now in full swing and many of us are smiling as we watch happy healthy foals bouncing around the paddocks! Sadly not every foaling will go to plan and we have already had a number of sick foals in our hospital.

Client information

What should I do when I arrive at the Equine Centre?

On arrival to the Equine Centre we ask that you check in with reception staff prior to unloading your horse. A staff member will be available to assist you with unloading and weighing your horse. As we like to ensure your horse is relaxed as possible prior to any examinations or procedures they will be placed into a stable or yard to adjust to the new environment.

What should I expect during my consult?

At the beginning of your consult you will meet with a member of our veterinary team to discuss the history and the plan for your visit. This is a great time to let us know if there is anything that may change our plan slightly, such as previous drug reactions, upcoming competitions, and preference for your horse not to be clipped. During the consultation process you will be able to stay with your horse except for procedures where safety restrictions apply, for example radiographs. There may also be procedures where we will need to remove your horse's shoes.

Who will be present during the consult?

During your consultation and the examination of your horse a number of people will be assisting. This will include a veterinary specialist who has extensive training in equine medicine or surgery, a veterinary resident who is a fully qualified veterinarian undertaking advanced training to become a specialist and a veterinary nurse. As we are a teaching hospital veterinary students will also present. Our students will be observing and may be involved in minor procedures with your consent only.

The handling of your horse will be performed by one of our trained veterinary nurses. This is for safety reasons and consistency of procedures, because they know exactly what our veterinarians require. It will also allow you to concentrate on what the veterinarians are doing and what they are explaining to you.

What happens if my horse is admitted to the hospital?

It is often necessary for your horse to be admitted to the hospital either as part of the examination process or for further treatment and monitoring. Your horse will be placed into a stall and feed will be provided. We can accommodate for a number of different feeds however if your horse has a special diet please make the nurse aware and we can discuss the best course of action.
We encourage owners to take their head collars and lead ropes home, however if your horse has rugs we are happy to ensure they are put on as required. Please do not forget to label your rugs.

Are there rules when visiting my horse?

It is important that we maintain a level of care for all of our patients in the hospital as well as ensuring the safety of all people while within the Equine Centre. For this reason we ask that individuals visiting their horse follow these rules:

  • Only owners/trainers listed on the admission form will be allowed to visit unless given permission from the owners. The party responsible for the horse must contact reception with a list of approved visitors.
  • Whilst visiting the hospital all clients must wear appropriate clean clothing and footwear, including closed-toe shoes. Clients who are inappropriately dressed will be asked to change.
  • Clients must first check in at reception. Please do not go directly to the stall.
  • Clients must remain with their horses during their visit.
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • Clients should not remove their horse from the stall unless given permission by the clinician. Clients must obey all signage and not enter any area marked as restricted. This includes stalls that have increased biosecurity measures.
  • To protect the privacy of our clients we ask that visitors do not walk around the clinic unattended, visit other patients, take photographs of other patients or read charts of any patients. Any client doing so will be asked to leave immediately.

Can I visit my horse?

Yes, but as with all hospitals we do have visiting hours:
Monday to Friday: 10:00am - 11:00am & 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Saturday, Sunday and University Holidays: By arrangement only

All visiting hours will be strictly enforced unless the client is given permission from the clinician in charge.

Who will care for my horse while in hospital?

During your horses stay in hospital a team of nurses on rotating shifts will monitor and treat your horse under supervision of our veterinary team. The duration and frequency of monitoring depends on the type and severity of the condition for which each horse is hospitalised. The students play a role in this by performing basic monitoring and some treatments under strict supervision. The care and treatment of your horse is of upmost importance to us and we ensure that all steps are taken in maintaining the comfort of your horse.

Getting here

Visit the Contact Us page for our location and contact information.

Download the Equine Centre Client Information flyer

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